Amid a heated “climate war” raging ahead of the federal election, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is adding fuel to the fire. Over the weekend he claimed there were ‘no jobs in the energy transition’ and that the transition from coal to cleaner energy ‘equates to unemployment’ in the coal-mining community of Gladstone, in Queensland. However, a new analysis from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) shows that its assertions are simply false.
The analysis concluded that replacing power generation at Australia’s largest coal-fired power station, Eraring, with renewables would create thousands more construction jobs than replacing it with gas.
Conducted by Green Energy Markets analyst Tristan Edis using the “Energy Construction Jobs Tool” he developed, the analysis found that building sufficient solar capacity to replace the 2,880 MW Eraring station would create 14,415 construction jobs, while replacing it with wind power would create 13,339 jobs.
Replacing it with the installation of solar panels on the roofs would lead to the creation of 63,500 jobs.
By comparison, replacing Eraring with another coal plant would only create 8,576 jobs, and replacing it with gas generators would only support 1,566 jobs.
The tool uses historical data and survey estimates developed by the University of Technology Sydney to provide estimates of the number of jobs created from the construction of different power stations relative to their electricity production.
The main conclusions of the analysis ultimately concluded that a “gas-led recovery” is “not in the interest of the thousands of construction workers seeking to secure their incomes” and that “the jobs of the supply chain associated with gas plant construction ranks lowest in every energy instance.
Source: Australian Conservation Foundation.
Renewable energies, “the winning option” for coal communities
The findings directly contradict claims by Mr Joyce, who has also backed the government’s clean energy fund to support coal, and other government infrastructure funds to finance the construction of coal-fired power plants.
Speaking on ABC’s Insiders show, broadcast from Gladstone, Joyce said the Coalition would support mining and exporting coal overseas “as long as they want to buy coal”.
This is despite the Coalition’s plan for the region’s energy transition away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy – namely hydrogen.
“If you want to talk about jobs and growth, you have to talk about coal, because that’s what our economy was built on,” he said.
ACF CEO Kelly O’Shannassy strongly disagreed, saying analysis shows renewables are the most beneficial path for coal communities.
“Renewable energy is the winning option for communities that have relied for decades on coal-fired power plants that are now on their last legs. Replacing old coal-fired generators with renewable energy will lead to a job boom in these regions. said O’Shanassy.
“Clinging to fossil fuels worsens climate change, creates fewer jobs and leads to higher electricity bills. This is not what Australians want.